Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The Kings Of Israel And Judah. Day 16, Solomon's Fame; The King Of Tyre Wants An Alliance With Him

The remaining verses of Chapter 4 have to do with the great wisdom of Solomon that was given to him by the Lord.

"God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite---wiser than Heman, Kalkol and Darda, the sons of Mahol." (1 Kings 4:29-31a) Ethan and Heman are mentioned in only one other place in the Bible. Ethan is the author of Psalm 89 which is a beautiful psalm of praise to the Lord that also includes references to the Lord's promises to David. Heman is the author of Psalm 88 in which he calls out to the Lord for help because he is in deep distress. The identities of Kalkol, Darda, and Mahol are not known.

Solomon is so wise that his fame spreads far and wide. Even the heathen peoples are talking about him with admiration. "And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five." (1 Kings 4:31b-32) 

Only two of the psalms in the Bible are attributed to Solomon: Psalm 72 and Psalm 127. Some scholars have interpreted this to mean that most of the songs he's credited with in 1 Kings 4 are songs other than hymns, not that it's sinful to write songs other than hymns as long as the lyrics aren't sinful. There is a volume known as "Psalms Of Solomon", not included in the Biblical canon, that contains eighteen psalms claiming to have been written by Solomon but his authorship cannot be proven, particularly because this book did not make its appearance until the first or second century AD. A great deal of other books appeared at that time, with their authorship attributed to the most famous characters of the Bible, but there is nothing to back up these claims. These books are commonly referred to as "pseudoepigrapha", which basically means "writings written under a pseudonym". They claim to have been written by various Old Testament patriarchs and prophets but such authorship cannot be proven and is almost certainly false in the case of most or all of these books. It's very suspicious that no one was aware of them or had made mention of them in any other writings until the books suddenly appeared on the scene in the first two centuries AD. This is why they are not included in the Holy Bible. If their authorship is not as it is claimed to be, nothing inside the books can be trusted.

Solomon was a brilliant man who was interested in many things. In fact, in Ecclesiastes he will mourn the fact that it's impossible for him to learn everything he wants to learn. The author of 1 Kings lists some of the subjects Solomon spent a lot of time thinking about and speaking about. "He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish." (1 Kings 4:33) I wouldn't be surprised if some of his songs were about the beauty of this world and everything in it. He enjoyed nature: both plant life and animal life. He had a concern for animals and said in Proverbs 12:10. "The righteous care for the needs of their animals." 

"From all nations people came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom. When Hiram king of Tyre heard that Solomon had been anointed king to succeed his father David, he sent his envoys to Solomon, because he had always been on friendly terms with David." (1 Kings 4:34-1 Kings 5:1) In 2 Samuel 5:11 we learned that Hiram sent envoys to David, along with cedar logs and carpenters and stonemasons to build a palace for David. He and David had a mutual respect for each other and, since the Phoenician people were not among those the Lord told the Israelites to destroy, there was nothing sinful about David making an alliance or having a friendship with a Phoenician king. We don't know whether Hiram continued worshiping the gods of his people or whether he converted to the God of Israel but it's possible to be good friends with someone whose beliefs differ from ours. I have friends who don't profess to be Christians but I respect them and they respect me. David and Hiram respected each other and Hiram wants to have a friendship with Solomon as he had with David. When he hears that Solomon has succeeded David as king of Israel, in the spirit of friendship he sends envoys to him. 

In tomorrow's passage we'll find these kings entering into a treaty with each other. Solomon will obtain cedar logs from Hiram---the same type of fine cedar logs Hiram sent to David for use in David's palace---and Solomon will offer to pay Hiram's workers whatever price the king wants to set. The two men will become allies and friends. Whether or not Hiram ever converted to the God of Israel, he obviously respected the faith of King David and King Solomon. He was happy to contribute anything he could to the building of a magnificent temple to the name of Israel's God. Many scholars believe it's highly possible that Hiram forsook the gods of his own nation in favor of Israel's God, and although there's no proof for or against this in the Bible, I like to think they are right. But even if they aren't, the friendship between Hiram and the house of David proves that we don't have to agree with someone on everything in order to love and respect them.

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